Totemo is a game from , originally released 31st December, 1969

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Totemo Hands-On Preview

What? Another Match-3 puzzle game on the App Store? Get right out of town, sir! That was our initial reaction to Totemo, a forthcoming puzzler from Hexage. But after putting the game through its paces, we found that it’s not just another mindless rehash of an existing game. In fact, it carves a new path through the well-trodden Match-3 territory and puts on a lot of polish as well.

In each of the 68 stages, you’ll find a formation of “spirits,” which look like adorable big-eyed morose shapes. Early in the game, you tap two spirits in a row (up and down or left and right; not diagonal), and both disappear. Your job is to clear the board of spirits, sending them all to “a better place.” This can be a simple task or a difficult one, depending on how the spirits are aligned onscreen.

To make things more complex as you advance, you’re soon required to tap three spirits in a row to make them disappear. And then star-shaped spirits are added to the mix that, when tapped, count as two regular spirits. These new elements build on the core gameplay and keep things interesting.

New gameplay mechanics are explained by a character that somehow manages to be both cute and creepy at the same time. As text appears in his word bubbles, he makes grunting noises similar to the sounds the Sims make, but stranger. The art style of the game is very polished and appealing.

The story mode progresses at a leisurely pace and is accompanied by a chilled-out soundtrack. For those looking for something a little more tense, there’s a survival mode, which has you solve as many puzzles as you can within a time limit. Online leaderboards round out the package.

If you’re into puzzle games, look for Totemo to hit the App Store soon.

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Cheap Shot: Totemo

Most puzzle games tend to be designed for the superhuman among us: those who have enjoyed puzzle games for years and have thus honed their skills at identifying patterns. Those games are often designed to be ridiculously difficult so the mutant target market can still enjoy them.

Totemo is a much easier game, designed with a good difficulty curve for those normally confounded by the puzzle genre. If in the past you have found yourself enjoying the first 15 percent of a puzzle game, and then experience sudden self-loathing as you fail repeatedly at Herculean brain-tasks, then Totemo is for you.

Cheer up, little blobs!

Tasked with freeing spirits who have been stuck in our world, the player must bind them to a totem three at a time, giving them the strength to leave this world. The spirits take the onscreen form of adorable, scared goo-balls who somehow had the capacity to inspire sympathy in us.

This isn’t so difficult, given what softies we are, but the point is that the presentation is handled quite well in this game. From the odd main character who waxes nostalgic about the glory days of the world since passed, to the particle effects and the peaceful fireflies floating along in the background, this game looks great. It may not be the flashiest art or the highest tech, but it’s calculated minimalism.

The real story here is the difficulty. It’s likely that hardcore puzzle fans will blow through this one without much trouble, but those who have traditionally been alienated by these types of games will likely find it to be an enjoyable experience.